Tyson Foods Inc. said on Monday it will voluntarily withdraw its labels reading raised without antibiotics on its chicken products, after a dispute with U.S. regulators and company rivals over misleading information.
Tyson, the largest producer of meat globally, said its label withdrawal was notified to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, it expressed a request for more specific practices.
In order to preserve the integrity of our label and our reputation as a premier company in the food industry, we believe there needs to be more specific labeling and advertising protocols developed, said Dave Hogberg, Tyson's senior vice president of consumer products.
The USDA approved the use of the labels by Tyson in May 2007 and sales of Tyson's products significantly grew. However the Department later modified its decision noting that the company used Ionophores, an antibiotic generally used in animals to prevent them from intestinal diseases. Eventually, Perdue Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. sued Tyson alleging its advertising had misleading information.
Today, Tyson Inc. confirmed in a statement it is changing its label into one without antibiotic claim.
We still support the idea of marketing chicken raised without antibiotics, because we know it's what most consumers want, Hogberg said.
The company said it has started designing and making new labels. However before they are completely introduced the previous packets and labeled products will continue appear in the market.
Shares of Tyson Foods Inc. fell 2.07 percent to $18.45 at the close of trading.